Monday, May 14, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Cheap)

This is a long overdue post, but for whatever reasons, I have never addressed it exclusively on this blog. This is about my compulsive obsession with being cheap. While staying away from home on a limited budget does make one more financially conscious, I have always pushed the boundaries of cheapness to a new extent. And being an accountant’s daughter who has seen her parents find happiness over a “balanced” account statement, I take pride in managing my money (whatever little I have) down to the last rupee, despite my aversion to numbers. The only two exceptions are clothes and travel, where I don’t compromise.

My MBA friends still regale each other with stories of my Gandhigiri, where I would walk for miles (from the highway to campus) in the heat, just to avoid paying the autowala through my nose…

Even in Mumbai, I still take the 2nd class train over a cab, or walk it down rather than take an auto…

I travel all the way down to Crawford Market (in aforementioned 2nd class train) to buy cosmetics from a wholesale shop rather than splurge on Body Shop in Palladium…

I buy accessories in local trains/Colaba Causeway rather than from showrooms…

I don’t have a maid or a cook and happily devote my weekends to domestic chores…

I avoid luxuries like a smartphone or an AC and I sell old newspapers at Rs. 9 a kg…

I borrow old books from a library rather than buy them (no, not even on Flipkart)…

Thankfully, most of my friends are thrifty as they also have to make rent/pay EMIs/start up new businesses, so we eat at cheap restaurants, drink during happy hours, watch morning show movies and gift each other knick knacks from Archies Gallery on birthdays.

Having said that, I went to a “townie” undergrad college, where the crowd is very different (read sophisticated rich women who still manage to intimidate me) and when I am part of some social event where I run into them (like this weekend), I still feel like the 18-year-old timid girl with a bad dressing sense, looking down at the floor, wishing there was a hole through which she could disappear forever!

So why am I so cheap?

Partly, it’s because of an inherent sense of justice. If I know someone is taking me for a ride, I would avoid it even if it means additional inconvenience for me.

Partly, it’s because I appreciate the importance of financial security, especially given the low job security in my industry, my constant struggle with authority and the elusive "dream" of quitting my job to become a writer.

But mostly, it’s because of my middle class upbringing, where I have seen my parents struggle for the better part of my childhood.

You can take the girl out of the rented two-room apartment in a modest locality in Kolkata but you can’t take the rented two-room apartment in a modest locality in Kolkata out of the girl

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love the title... very creative...

and love the post even more... one of my all time favourites!!

-Soumya

Pepper said...

The behaviour you described is supposed to be cheap? Why?!

xibi said...

Same here!!!

NIMO said...

Good read.....!!!!

Nefertiti said...

@soumya
thank you thank you. and yes, you are one those friends with rent/EMI with whom I can just hang around the house talking for ages, eating daal chawal and still have an awesome time :)

@pepper
well, some people still consider it beneath one's dignity to do their OWN work. so that way I am cheap because I indulge in jharu pocha bartan and laundry myself.

@xibi
well you don't give away much do you? care for an introduction?

@NIMO
thanks!

Anonymous said...

Nice read..you should forward it to all your friends who use you to amuse themselves over tea/drinks...and I somehow can identify with you on all these things..though the hedonist devil overcomes sometimes :) believe me, being good at saving is an amazing virtue!

Shalmoli

Makk said...

Few things never change...

Nefertiti said...

@shalmoli

ahhh there speaks my hedonist ex flatmate... anyway it's good to let go and have some fun at times as well, and you sure know how to. so yea, we were indeed good flatmates :)

@makk
and thankfully so

xibi said...

:) well... My name is Sibi... I started reading/surfing blogs recently only and yours was the first one I read and I guess am a regular reader(a fan) of your blogs now... And yeah some of your stories is like taken right out of my life :) :) :)

Nefertiti said...

@xibi
ahhh... thank you for bumping into my blog which is quite obscure. Anyway hopefully you will start yours soon enough, and I can have a taste of your life...

prachetash said...

Ah, the truth finally!

Not only are you cheap, you transmit it to others! And I know it well! ;)

Neil said...

You wont find me arguing with you on the bad sense of dressing. I have a question. Did you mean 'elusive' dream of quitting your job to become a writer? A tad defensive but one of the better ones from 2012. Which isnt saying much but still ....

Nefertiti said...

@prachetash
unlike some people. at least I do justice to my promises... how many treats do you owe me again??

@neil
bad sense of dressing?? look who is talking.
fine, be mean and nitpick on my small spelling errors...
at least I have 50 posts to show for my efforts and enough readers to appreciate them. how is blog coming along btw?? as obscure as ever, I am sure

and yes, on that note, STAY AWAY FROM MY BLOG...